Artist Nerdrum back in court

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Norwegian artist Odd Nerdrum was back in an Oslo courtroom this week to appeal his conviction last fall on charges of tax evasion. Nerdrum claimed he has “paid all the tax I should pay, and I’m not guilty.”

Artist Odd Nerdrum made a rare appearance on the television talk show "Skavlan" last fall, on Norwegian Broadasting (NRK). PHOTO: NRK screen grab/Views and News

Nerdrum, age 68, was sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of giving incorrect information to Norwegian tax authorities and neglecting to declare NOK 14 million in cash that was found in a safe deposit box Austria.

Prosecutors said the case started after an article in newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) in 2002 reported that Nerdrum had sold art for NOK 120 million in the US during the past 20 years. Tax authorities started investigating and determined that Nerdrum had failed to declare much of the alleged sales revenue.

Nerdrum admits failing to declare the cash found in Austria, which would have been subject to Norway’s so-called formueskatt (literally, “fortune tax”) but he denies underpaying income tax. His defense attorney, Pål Berg, claimed some of Nerdrum’s income was “taxed twice, some three times.”

The cash, meanwhile, had been set aside to cover possible claims from customers who had bought paintings where Nerdrum had used paint that literally was running off the canvas. The artist was feverishly trying to fix the damage and needed to be prepared to refund customers’ money, his attorney said.

Complicating the case are Nerdrum’s movements from Norway to Iceland and back to Norway as he changed his residence. He now reportedly lives in France.

Nerdrum claimed it wasn’t unusual for artists to be subject to tax investigations, noting that the same thing happened to Norway’s most celebrated artist, Edvard Munch. His trial was running for three days with a new verdict due after the summer holidays.

Views and News staff